In Pittsburgh, a frank conversation about what ‘livable city’ means

    Michel Martin (right) with panelists: (right to left) Bill Generett Jr.

    Michel Martin (right) with panelists: (right to left) Bill Generett Jr.

    As Pittsburgh revitalizes, who are the changes benefitting? 

    Last night, NPR and Keystone Crossroads partner WESA hosted Going There: Reinventing the American City. The conversation, hosted by NPR’s Michel Martin, focused on what’s behind a superlative often used to describe a revitalizing Pittsburgh: most livable city. What makes it “livable,” and for whom?

    Pittsburgh poet and artist Vanessa German set the tone with her powerful poem “Lost My Cool at a Community Meeting” and the actor Wali Jamal treated the audience to a performance of an excerpt from August Wilson’s play “Radio Golf.” Thought-provoking entertainment aside, the evening was full of real talk.    

    Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto often speaks about his city as two separate Pittsburghs, one for wealthier, mainly white residents, and the other for poorer, mainly African-American residents. At certain points in the conversation, those two cities seemed all but irreconcilable. Emotional panelists expressed frustration around the lack of reckoning with racism in the city and some voiced distrust for new development in rapidly changing neighborhoods. There was no clear conclusion, either. The panelists agreed that this needed to be an ongoing conversation.     

    You can learn more about the participants and watch the entire conversation and performances online.

    The event included a twitter chat which happened parallel to the stage conversation. Excerpts are below. 

    [View the story “An honest conversation about revitalization in Pittsburgh” on Storify]

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